45 votes

On Divorce

I've spoken about my personal journey over the past six months in comments a few times, but I felt the need to make a post about it, mostly as catharsis for myself, but if it helps other people out, that would be cool too. Also, I may be doxxing myself a bit here, which is a little unavoidable if I want to tell this story accurately. I'd appreciate not being stalked.

I'd like to detail my journey of what is, so far, the most difficult time in my life, what I've been doing to cope, how I'm doing now, and what the future may hold for me. This may be a little long and detailed, but I'll try to hit the high points.
Lets start at the beginning here.
I'm a 34 year old part time military officer in the US. I met my ex wife years ago, in high school originally. We were casual acquaintances back then. We had a couple of classes together, and I would tease her a little bit (I was immature when I was young, and totally unable to communicate well with girls). We went to prom together, but mostly lost touch after high school.

After college, I came back to my home town, started developing my career in IT, hanging out with friends and coworkers. One of the people I worked with happened to be dating a girl who was good friends with my ex wife, and we started all hanging out, and reconnecting. My ex confessed that she always had a crush on me, and started actively perusing me. It started out as a casual relationship that I didn't see going anywhere, but it lasted. Eventually, I fell deeply in love with her, and we moved in together a short while later.

I was so devoted to this woman. We were so alike in so many ways. We shared the same interests, the same type of humor, we developed our own language and style of communication. I had never really seriously considered wanting kids, and over time and a bunch of thought, I decided that I didn't really agree with the institution of marriage. In my mind, when two people love each other, that should be enough, and either party should be free to walk away at any time without any legal burdens or extra hoops to jump through, because I wouldn't want someone to be obligated to stay with me for even one minute.

Both things were really important to her however, and we almost broke up over it. Eventually, after spending time with kids, and some deep introspection on my own part, I came around on kids, and coming around on kids almost necessitates coming around on marriage. You don't need to be married to have kids, of course, but it certainly provides a more stable environment and smooths out a lot of practical, logistical concerns. I asked her to marry me shortly after that, after five years together, in 2016.

What followed were the happiest couple of years of my life. My wife had worked her way up in an accounting firm, she was managing a department, on track to become a partner in a few years. She had so much determination, ambition, and grit. It made me glassy eyed to think about how proud I was of her, all the personal growth and progress she'd made since I knew that girl in high school. I was developing a successful career in network engineering as well, and frequently flying out for short stints and conferences and design meetings. We were still best friends, and always wondered about people in unhappy marriages. Why couldn't they just be like us? Why were we so good at this?

We took trips together, we watched shows together on the couch, I couldn't get enough of her.

Her job had always been stressful, but some time around 2018, the stress had come to a head. She was frequently working until 10pm on week nights during her busy season, then she'd come home, down a few glasses of wine, go to bed after me, and wake up far too late, continuing the cycle of stress. This continued on for a few months. I tried to be there for her, prepare meals, support her however I could, but to little avail. She was angry, stressed out, upset all the time. She'd cry from the stress frequently, and was totally unable to cope.

One day, she came to me with a proposal. She would quit her job and start her own business. I always knew that she wanted to do that eventually, but I had hoped it would be after she had amassed significant savings to do it. Her business idea was to start a tabletop gaming cafe. We had gotten pretty deep into board games and TTRPGs, and she thought that with her business sense and accounting knowledge, she'd be a perfect fit to do this job. I agreed with her, but a significant part of me thought that it was a massive risk, and financially, we were on the cusp of being truly independent. This would set us back a few years in the best possible scenario. She was my wife though, and I saw what this job was doing to her, so I agreed.
She would work six more months while planning, save her money, and then quit to start this venture.

As everyone told us it would, it did not exactly go according to plan. Securing a location and funding was far more difficult than she anticipated. She was stuck waiting for 8 months for a location that didn't pan out. She wasn't used to having to push people and follow up and annoy people to get them to do what they'd say they did, all of that was new for her. No one would extend a small business loan to an unproven entrepreneur with a fairly novel business plan. All in all, between the location, and the build out, and delays with licensing and permits, she mostly waited around for two years. In this time, I could see she was spiraling. She'd wake up at noon and do puzzles or binge watch tv all day. At night, she would go out drinking with her friends. I would join sometimes, but I couldn't, and didn't want to most of the time because I was just exhausted from work.

Around this time, I discussed with my ex wife, and took a new position in the military, and got word that I would be deploying in 2020. I'm a leader of about 150 people, and preparing for this kind of thing is extremely involved, so I was working a lot. Meanwhile, my ex wife was going out constantly, 3-4 times a week, and coming home absolutely wasted. Sometimes she ubered, but other times she drove. In late 2019, I told her that I was concerned about how much she was drinking, that I thought it was unsafe. This was a bit of a wakeup call for her, as she had struggles with alcoholism in the past. She told me she was going to stop drinking and start going back to AA. I told her that if she thought that was what she needed to do, I would support her. She started her sobriety journey, and things started improving. She still was in limbo with her business, but construction was at least starting, she could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In spring of 2020, I left for my deployment in the middle east, hopeful and optimistic. Her business was coming along nicely, I was taking this fairly prestigious position, and I was excited. We were sad to be apart, and it was heartbreaking to say good bye, but I'd see her again in ten short months.

The deployment was stressful, but rewarding. I accomplished a lot of things I'm very proud of while I was out there, and about halfway through, my wife finally opened her business! This is where things started taking a turn. She was unable to secure funding still, so she basically dumped all of her debts on my lap. She never directly asked me for the money, but she worded it in such a way that I couldn't really refused. "Hey... so the contractors are asking for their 60k... I don't have any way to pay them... so... I need to figure something out". Of course, she was my wife, I had the money, why would I say no? I had always been very good at saving, and had a decent amount in investments. All in all, I spent about $160k directly funding her business. It was an emotional, somewhat sickening feeling parting with that much money. My life savings more or less. This wasn't part of the plan, and I was upset at her for putting me in this position.
I told myself that it was ok. This was an investment in us. She'd make that back eventually, and what's hers is mine and what's mine is hers. Besides, this was my wife, and above all else, I wanted her to be happy. I stuffed those feelings of pain and resentment down, and continued with the deployment.

During the whole time I was gone, I would get messages from her about how hard it was being alone, how difficult taking care of the dog and business was, how lonely she felt, how much she missed me and she couldn't bare it anymore. I felt truly awful, but there was very little I could do 10,000 miles away. I texted with her often (the signal wasn't so good for live video or audio calls). We would sext a bit, exchange nudes to try to tide each other over, but I could tell she was struggling in that area as well.
About five months in, that kind of thing abruptly stopped. At the time, I thought she was learning coping strategies and adjusting to life with me gone. How little did I know.
This winter, I came home finally. Stepping off that plane into the terminal, a few hundred yards away from my wife was the most excited I've ever been in my life. I was giddy, there was a huge smile on my face as I walked down the concourse in my uniform, and the first glimpse I got of her standing there, my god, it was like being in the desert and stumbling upon a pristine oasis. She had requested that my parents not be there, so against my better judgement, I told them that they were not to come, but I didn't think about that at all. She was standing there in a ratty sweatshirt and jeans, but she was still the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I went up and hugged her tightly, kissed her, and told her how much I loved her. Having her in my arms after so long was just such an amazing feeling.
We went back to her car, and things quickly became much more... 'clinical', I'd say. Instead of feeling like we hadn't seen each other for ten months, it was like we were just hanging out on the couch after a long weekend, talking about practical things very quickly. It didn't really strike me as odd at the time, only now looking back on it.

We went home, had sex, I got a burger, we were content. The next week or so, that same 'clinical' feeling persisted. She took one day off of work, then went back, saying that because the business was so new she couldn't take much time off. Fine. I stopped by the shop often, but every time I was there, I got a cold feeling from her and her employees, like I wasn't truly welcome. She would come home late each night and we'd watch something or have sex, but I didn't really see her much. I really wanted to go do a trip together, spend some quality time together, but it didn't pan out. I spent my time fixing up the house which she'd let fall into disrepair or playing video games to relax.

One night, a week later (February 9th), I'm up late waiting for her to get home. 12:30 rolls around, no word from her. 1:00, nothing. Finally I message her, ask her when she's going to be home. She said she got caught up at work, and would be staying over her friends house for the night. A bit odd as her friend lives maybe 1/2 mile down the road, but whatever, she told me she'd been staying with this friend a lot while I was gone to stave off loneliness, so maybe she just misses that. I go to bed alone disappointed.

The next day, she comes home at 10, I'm on the computer. She sits down on the couch, and doesn't say anything. I can tell she's upset, so I ask her what's wrong. No answer. I turn the computer off and walk over, and ask her again.

She blurts it out. "I want a divorce".

This didn't even register for me. I didn't even hear her at first. After a few seconds, I just immediately assumed she was joking. It was a frequent joke of ours "You don't like this movie? We're getting a divorce!" it was one of many things we did to mess around.
I smiled a little, then it vanished. "Wait... you're serious?"

My head fell into my hands. "I don't understand... why?"

The reasons she gave me made no sense. I wasn't affectionate enough. I wasn't outgoing or social enough. She didn't like the nicknames I gave her. Stuff that had never come up before, and besides, I'd just been gone for close to a year, why are these suddenly issues now?

I thought, easy, I can fix all of that stuff no problem. We'll go to couples counseling. No, I'm tired of counseling (We never did any form of counseling together).

Okay, lets take that trip, lets work on the marriage. No, I'm tired of fighting.

None of it made any sense. She had to run some errands, I asked if I could come, I just needed to spend time with her and get to the bottom of this. She went to work. I stopped by, tried to get some clarity. She reiterated the same points, said that we don't communicate well. Referenced a fight we had at a party 3 years ago where we didn't talk for a day. I barely even remember what the argument was about. I hugged her, whispered to her that I can't lose her. She responded "Wellllll.....". That night, she told me she was staying at her mom's.

I talked to a friend of mine who is a divorce attorney a couple of days later. He told me that he hates to bring this up, but 99% of the time in situations like this, the wife is cheating. I hadn't done any snooping until then, but she had an old phone at the house. I opened it up. There it was in black and white. She'd been having an affair with one of the regular customers at her store for six months. "I love you baby" "I can't wait for us to be together" "You make me so happy".

I wanted to vomit. I wanted to break things. I wanted to murder this guy. I wanted my wife back. I felt so much rage, confusion, sadness, worthlessness. I couldn't bring myself to be mad at her though. When I read it, I was on the phone on my friend, and exclaimed "That fucking BITCH!", but I didn't really mean it. Not my beautiful wife. It was the guy's fault. He corrupted her. He was insistent and wore her defenses down. He turned my wife against me.

I contacted a divorce attorney that day. The marriage was over, I knew that now. What followed were the worst two months of my life. So much self loathing and depression. Anxiety. Panic attacks. How could I have not seen this? Where did I go wrong? Why did I go on that deployment? Why didn't I call and text my wife more? What did this guy have that I didn't? My friends and family helped, but some advice was better than others. "Just don't think about her" is not good advice, FYI.

I enrolled in therapy for the first time in my life. It helped a little, not a lot though. I kept up with my gym routine, which did help. I spent a lot of time walking my dog.

Eventually, I called my ex, and I told her "I want to do this quickly and with as little emotion as possible. I have a lot of things I'm feeling right now but I'm not going to bring them up because I want this to go smoothly." I never told her that I knew about the affair. My lawyer said it could only hurt things. Eventually we came to a settlement. I'd keep the house, my dog, my investments, etc. She'd keep her business, including the bulk of the capital I'd spent on it. The lawyer said this was a good deal. I still felt like I was getting fucked. I gave her that money less than a month before she started cheating on me. It was a complete slap in the face.

I spent a lot of time curled up in a ball crying. Prior to this, I hadn't cried in fifteen years. Little things would trigger me. A text from her about finances. Someone telling me about her shop. A smell that reminded me of her.

Two months after our separation, I started dating again. I met a wonderful woman, she sold exotic plants for a living. Empathetic, kind, beautiful, smart. It didn't work out. She needed someone in a more stable place. Looking back it was too soon.

I kept up with therapy and the gym, they both helped a little. I've gone on a couple more dates since then, nothing has really stuck. I'm still struggling with feelings of self confidence/attractiveness.

All in all, I DO feel better than I did, but I still don't feel great. I've been trying to expand my hobbies, I'm playing kickball now, I've picked up surfing. I'm trying to force myself to be a little more outgoing and social. I'd like to make new friends also, but not a ton of luck there yet. I do still cry sometimes. The other day, I was driving home from a bar, taking a route I used to take with my ex when we came from the movies. I remembered how happy I was with her by my side back then and started crying on the way home. I really hope that happens less. It's really unpleasant.

I have lately been feeling like I'm in a little bit of a rut. It's been six months and each week flies by with me doing much of the same thing. Video games at night, work during the day, gym in the afternoon, maybe a date here or there. I wouldn't mind maybe moving to a new city, but the thought of that and all the work that's involved, and having no friends is frankly terrifying to me. I do know that I don't want to live life like groundhog day. I want to experience more new experiences.

As far as I know, my ex wife has gone public with her relationship with the guy she left me for. By all outside accounts she seems happy, but who knows, I don't really keep tabs on her much and only communicate with her regarding a payment she owes me from the marriage. I've come to redirect most of the anger I had towards the guy at her instead. I am extremely bitter towards her and what she did, and I probably always will be. I don't see forgiveness in my future any time soon. I wrote her a letter after the divorce was finalized detailing that I knew everything she'd been doing, and assuring her that what she did was irredeemable, and no matter how she justified it in her head, it was not ok. I don't know if she ever even read it. She's still never apologized for what she did, and I doubt she ever will.

As for me, I'd like to get to a place where I'm happy by myself. That'll be a long road I think, as even before I met my ex, I wasn't happy alone. I'd like to go amass new experiences; see the world, live in new places, do things I've never done before. I feel like I'm getting old, and I haven't done the things I want to do yet.

I'd also like to find someone to fall in love with again. I love having a partner around and I'd be sad if I couldn't find someone to connect with like that again. I've been doing online dating, but man, it's really rough out there. I far prefer meeting people the way I met my ex, but you can't force that.

I hope that I continue to get better. It feels like a kind of plateau right now. If I compare how I feel now to the happiest moments of my life with my ex as a 10, and the month right after the separation as a 1, I would say I'm at around a 5. Not horrible, but not very good either. I hope that number steadily increases, with or without another person.

One "gift" that this whole experience has given me is self awareness of my emotional state. I feel a lot more in tune with the way I feel. I know when I'm having a bad day, and I usually know if I'm feeling bad just because I'm tired, or because I haven't had caffeine, or because something triggered me.

I also feel a lot more deeply now. I cry during emotional scenes in TV shows, I have highs and lows, whereas before I remember even telling my ex that emotionally, I felt a little numb. That could be a good thing depending on how you look at it.

Anyway, I know it was a little long, and if you read it, thank you. If you've got any questions or comments, feel free to leave them, and if this is inappropriate for this board, please feel free to let me know and I'll remove it.

15 comments

  1. [3]
    TemulentTeatotaler
    Link
    I'm sorry that's something you're having to deal with. For what it's worth, you sound like you're handling everything about as well as anyone could hope to. You're reflecting, staying healthy, not...

    I'm sorry that's something you're having to deal with. For what it's worth, you sound like you're handling everything about as well as anyone could hope to. You're reflecting, staying healthy, not numbing yourself, and seem to know what you want out of life. Having seen a good bit of dysfunctional people you're definitely someone I'd bet on, and I'll be cheering for ya.

    I've had a couple experiences with infidelity in relationships much more shallow than yours, and it still messed with me in ways I didn't anticipate.

    One instance was with a girl I met when studying abroad. We ended up talking in our orientation group and taking a train to where we'd be housed. While exploring the area I think I made a bad "yo mamma" joke ("yo mamma's so fat she's the reason Atlas shrugged"?) and she turned in the middle of the cross walk and told me her mom was dead.

    Her mom died a month ago. In front of her and her brother, her mom fell off a cliff on a trip to a national park. She had to tackle her brother because she was afraid he was going to try to jump off after her. They had to wait over an hour to confirm what they were dreading.

    Now she was in a new country with no good support structure. She was someone I respected and a cool lady, but we were very different people and in different circumstances we may not have even been friends. She needed someone and I wanted to be there for her, so we got into a relationship.

    In some ways I was a good partner, and in other ways I was a shitty one. I was immature in a lot of ways and had some baggage I was ignoring. I think my worst moment (that hopefully she missed) might have been playing some folksy songs that included a song with the lyrics:

    Mother died of influenza when we kids were small
    Father never smiled again and seemed to shrink with every passing year

    A couple months in she started talking excitedly about someone she'd met in some outdoors group. He was a baritone. She got increasingly avoidant. I had made some special plans for our last week but she didn't respond to texts.

    The day we were going back we were supposed to coordinate for transportation, but she was running late. I was on the bus with her laundry and I'm pretty sure she showed up with the guy she'd be in a FB relationship with a couple days later. It was an awkward trip back, and one that wasn't helped by weather delays.

    Sorry for a bit of oversharing. I wanted to tell that story as a way of saying anything you're feeling or needing to do to cope is understandable. Hope you take it easy on yourself.

    A relationship of mine that started with an expiry date with someone I didn't have any strong feelings towards (outside of being a suffering human) still threw me for a bit. Infidelity forces you to do an inventory of your life. Things you took for granted you can't. You question your self-worth, the genuineness of any smile or laugh you recall, whether you can trust anyone to not lie to your face. All the habits to comfort or care for a partner run into bitter feelings. You look for when things went wrong and play out what could have been done differently. You tally up all the effort and time you put in to the relationship.

    Some of those impulses are bottomless. Ruminating sucks.

    Similarly, forgiveness doesn't have to require absolving someone of the harm they've done or require having warm feelings towards them. It can be a gift you give to yourself and have very little to do with the other person.

    I feel like I'm getting old, and I haven't done the things I want to do yet.
    I'd also like to find someone to fall in love with again. I love having a partner around and I'd be sad if I couldn't find someone to connect with like that again.

    Can you think of people in your life or public figures that have succeeded in goals like yours, in a comparable situation?

    I've found it to be encouraging to that sort of proof that some path exists, even if I don't know what it will look like for me.

    My aunt changed her career in her 60s to something she felt called to. My SIL's grandpa started a relationship in his 90s and from what I've heard they're living it up and going on road trips.

    Good luck, and thanks for sharing!

    13 votes
    1. [2]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      Your story was a good read, thanks for sharing. For what it's worth, based on what you've described, you're beating yourself up a little too much for the things you did. Being expected to vet...

      Your story was a good read, thanks for sharing. For what it's worth, based on what you've described, you're beating yourself up a little too much for the things you did. Being expected to vet every song for lyrics that might trigger someone else is totally unreasonable, and just because something bad happened and she reacted negatively to it doesn't mean that it was your fault.

      You're right, infidelity messes with you in ways you can't really anticipate. While we were married, I sometimes ruminated on dark thoughts just as a sort of intellectual exercise; "How would I react if my wife died?" "How would I react if my wife killed someone and was arrested?" "How would I react if my wife started hitting me?" "How would I react if my wife cheated on me?". No basis in reality for any of it, but just things you idly think about after hearing about them from friends or the news.
      I always thought that it would be an easy decision, kick her out, move on. It would hurt for a little bit, but it would be her fault, and I'd get over it. I'd been left before.

      The reality is nothing like that. Even though intellectually, you can understand that it wasn't your fault, that she cheated and left because she was a coward who either wasn't able to speak up when she felt there were problems, or she didn't want to work on the problems, or she just plain got horny, started having sex with someone, and made up the problems after the fact, the brain still tries to find a way that it's your fault. I think it does this because it grants a modicum of control, ie; "if I just did this one thing differently, I wouldn't ever have to worry about getting betrayed". Being at fault for someone else cheating is somehow more palatable than the truth: that people are all flawed, and you can never really know someone's true character. You just need to take it on faith and hope you don't get burned again.

      As far as role models, or people that have succeeded in goals like mine in similar situations, I can't really say. I don't really keep up much about the personal lives of politicians/celebrities/other public figures so I'm not sure who I could cite that has lived through something similar and gone on to live a life I'd want to live.

      One person who I always did look up to though was Anthony Bourdain. Obviously, he struggled with a lot of deep seated issues around despair and depression, but he also absolutely lived life to the fullest. He was by all accounts a generous, charismatic, warm, and kind hearted man who everyone loved being around. If I could pick anyone that I wanted to be like, it would probably be him.

      7 votes
      1. TemulentTeatotaler
        Link Parent
        I picked a memory that stood out for me, but the self-critique was based on other things that were harder to articulate. It's all good, just one of those things where looking back I could have...

        I picked a memory that stood out for me, but the self-critique was based on other things that were harder to articulate. It's all good, just one of those things where looking back I could have handled some things a lot better.

        I think it does this because it grants a modicum of control

        For sure. It can also be really hard to change your image of someone you care about, and you're often very aware of your own shortcomings in a way you aren't about a partner.

        you can never really know someone's true character

        It can be pretty hard to even understand yourself, especially in situations that are new to you. I remember when I fell from a tree or the first time I was in a fight I got hit by so much adrenaline I was shaking for shy of half an hour, barely monosyllabic while feeling like the world ran a little slower.

        I think there's a category of knowledge that we only ever get a little bit of. You only get a hint of it after reflecting on knowing someone for some years, or see them experience aging or being a parent. How they are when they lose their job or are helpless. You get a little more when you see someone else going through something similar but handling it different.

        I think the math aphorism is: "All models are wrong, but some are useful." Maybe a "true character" is as inaccessible as a quark, just something you get a bit better at seeing or checking for.

        I'm going to toss out a perspective on your ex-wife, but I'm a bit hesitant to do so. I don't know if it would fit with your experience.

        Definitely skippable.

        From what you wrote it sounds like your ex-wife came to hate who she was. People that are driven or prideful sometimes snap because they can't bend. Instead of changing their self-image they try to come up with some way to retain it, even as that becomes increasingly ridiculous or harmful.

        Instead of being someone who got burnt out at work (where her co-workers were coping?) she was pivoting to be an entrepreneur. Instead of being depressed she was just in a holding pattern on the location. Asking you for financial help directly would start up those feelings of inadequacy so it had to be done indirectly.

        You became a reminder of her own failure and weakness and she had no healthy way of dealing with that. Your deployment--beyond the normal difficulties of being long distance-- an easy path to thinking about the same things, how you were having to support her.

        Sometimes a partner gets to a place where even kindness, affection, or support turn into barbs because of how they feel about themselves. They sabotage the relationship in a destructive ugly way because they don't have the skills or character to fix it or get out in a healthy way.

        In that sort of relationship you might learn the exact opposite of the lessons you should, if trying to figure out what went wrong.

        One person who I always did look up to though was Anthony Bourdain

        I don't know much about him but he sounds like a great guy, and those sound like some great qualities to emulate.

        All the best

        5 votes
  2. [4]
    HotPants
    Link
    We get into ruts during a relationship. They are comfy. They are cosy. But the fun person you dated becomes the couch potato who just wants to order in. Breakups are a chance to break out of the...

    I wouldn't mind maybe moving to a new city, but the thought of that and all the work that's involved, and having no friends is frankly terrifying to me. I do know that I don't want to live life like groundhog day. I want to experience more new experiences.

    We get into ruts during a relationship. They are comfy. They are cosy. But the fun person you dated becomes the couch potato who just wants to order in.

    Breakups are a chance to break out of the rut and reinvent yourself.

    Which is more terrifying? Moving cities, being forced to find new friends, getting out of the rut and trying new things like meetups and art classes and outdoor meetups? Or continuing down the path you are on?

    Write down what you want to achieve in the next five years. Write down the sort of qualities you would like to see in a future partner. Like moving cities in order to seek out new experiences.

    Then pick one, and start to make it happen.

    After my last long term breakup (not divorce), I learned fire dancing, and after a few years I found a new girlfriend but was already committed to going to burning man. Initially it was just going to be me heading off to burning man by myself, as my new girlfriend didn't express an interest in going, but then last minute my new girlfriend asked to tag along. She is now my wife.

    8 votes
    1. [3]
      papasquat
      Link Parent
      Yes, true. Truth be told, I was more of the couch potato in the relationship. I loved when it was just us. I had other friends I saw, and we went out, but I cherished our one on one time so much....

      We get into ruts during a relationship. They are comfy. They are cosy. But the fun person you dated becomes the couch potato who just wants to order in.

      Yes, true. Truth be told, I was more of the couch potato in the relationship. I loved when it was just us. I had other friends I saw, and we went out, but I cherished our one on one time so much. There was nothing I absolutely loved more than curling up on the couch with her watching something. I felt like I belonged. Like I mattered to someone. Like everything was as it should be, all of the topsy-turvy turns my life has taken all happened exactly as they should have because it led me to that moment.

      I realize now, and really, back then, that that wasn't logically the case. I could have ended up with any number of women who would have been far better for me, but it's a tough feeling to shake!

      Yes, you are right of course. Doing the hard thing, exposing myself to fear and possible failure is the way to grow and ultimately how to find happiness, but truth be told, I've always been a "comfort zone" guy. It was something I was working on when I was single before, and something I intend to work on now that I'm single again.

      Thank you for reading, and thank you for your comment. I loved your story, and I wish you and your wife all the happiness in the world!

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        HotPants
        Link Parent
        I am also a "comfort zone" kind of guy. But I have forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. I've learned to sail, windsurf, sky dive, ride a motorcycle, scuba dive, cook crazy meals... The one...

        I am also a "comfort zone" kind of guy. But I have forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. I've learned to sail, windsurf, sky dive, ride a motorcycle, scuba dive, cook crazy meals... The one thing the revolutionized my life was moving countries. It was hard. It worked wonders.

        Also, I don't want to make it sound like I have it all figured out. Finding a great partner is really hard. Dating is fun. Having a great marriage is really, really hard. I will tell you frankly, I don't have one. (I also don't know of anyone who truly does.)

        But the one thing that helps, the one thing that holds my marriage together, is while times are hard right now, we had some incredibly fun adventures early on, and are having child friendly adventures now. And for me, remembering times when the good times far outweighed the bad is key when you go through the inevitable times when the bad clearly outweighs the good.

        3 votes
        1. papasquat
          Link Parent
          This is part of what scares me and makes me sad. I thought I HAD a great marriage. We basically never fought, both of our friends were always envious of how well we worked together. It was like a...

          Also, I don't want to make it sound like I have it all figured out. Finding a great partner is really hard. Dating is fun. Having a great marriage is really, really hard.

          This is part of what scares me and makes me sad. I thought I HAD a great marriage. We basically never fought, both of our friends were always envious of how well we worked together. It was like a fairy tale for much of it. It started wearing off towards the end, but I thought it was still very, very good. At least it was for me.

          I’m worried that it was sort of lightning in a bottle.

          4 votes
  3. bkimmel
    Link
    Bro. That really hit home. You sound like a pretty awesome dude and I can tell you're going to be OK. Dropping all pretense of political correctness for the sake of some heartfelt advice; You are...

    Bro. That really hit home. You sound like a pretty awesome dude and I can tell you're going to be OK.

    Dropping all pretense of political correctness for the sake of some heartfelt advice; You are 34. As a dude, even if it doesn't totally feel like it yet, your "stock" is about to hit its peak. Get out there and sell it, brother. You were in the military, you probably have some friends in different parts of the country, go check them out.

    It's awesome to hear that you still believe in love. That's a hell of a thing after what you went through. There's nothing you can even learn from that, it's just the universe kicking you in the nuts and trying to make you give up and it sounds like you didn't. That's a fucking inspiration right there.

    Be cool to yourself. Seems like you're a pretty good writer, maybe you could make something out of that.

    8 votes
  4. Thales
    (edited )
    Link
    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it was heartbreaking to read. Your journey from radiant optimism to tragedy to a place of uncertainty and cautious hope is one that really resonates with...

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it was heartbreaking to read. Your journey from radiant optimism to tragedy to a place of uncertainty and cautious hope is one that really resonates with me. This part in particular:

    As for me, I'd like to get to a place where I'm happy by myself. That'll be a long road I think, as even before I met my ex, I wasn't happy alone. I'd like to go amass new experiences; see the world, live in new places, do things I've never done before. I feel like I'm getting old, and I haven't done the things I want to do yet.

    I went through a traumatic event a little while ago that has changed my life entirely, and I still find myself asking many similar questions to your own (Am I too old to begin again? Will I ever find someone to share my life with? etc.). But I remain hopeful that there is time enough for both of us (time enough to learn from our mistakes and make new ones too :) )

    The one thing I have found very helpful for moving forward (and this may seem quite radical, but my life has undergone a radical change) is to divide my life into two halves: pre-trauma vs. post-trauma. I measure myself against my lowest low post-trauma and focus on trying to build myself slowly up from there, avoiding any comparison to my pre-trauma self. (Edit: and most importantly, don’t ever compare yourself to others! I do it all the time but I know it’s unfair to me and unhealthy). Some days it feels like I'm back to square one--back to that lowest day--but I try to remind myself that it's not really about how I feel on any individual day, it's more about the gradual trend. So long as I'm trending up or learning something that will help me trend up in the future (even if it's just learning how to survive a crushing sense of despair and keep getting out of bed), I'm confident I'll find my way to a better place.

    One last thought: I also find myself dealing with my trauma through writing and I very much admire how well you condensed such a heartfelt and emotional journey into only a few paragraphs. I read it twice through and was moved both times. I truly wish you the very best and thank you again for sharing :) Thales

    7 votes
  5. kfwyre
    Link
    I don’t have anything to say beyond how much I continue to admire you for your honesty and transparency. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope you are able to heal and find the...

    I don’t have anything to say beyond how much I continue to admire you for your honesty and transparency. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope you are able to heal and find the happiness and peace you deserve.

    5 votes
  6. [4]
    papasquat
    (edited )
    Link
    Thanks for the comment, and I'm sorry you had such a traumatic event happen to you. Life feels so unfair when you think about it. I've learned to just accept that. I've begun to think of it like...

    Thanks for the comment, and I'm sorry you had such a traumatic event happen to you.

    Life feels so unfair when you think about it. I've learned to just accept that.
    I've begun to think of it like this: a lot of people have it better than me, but then again, a lot of people have it worse. Bad things don't happen to everyone, but they do happen to a lot of us. Yes, I was betrayed by the person I devoted my entire life to, but I'm still very healthy, I'm still relatively young, I haven't faced a lot of personal tragedy outside of this, my friends are all still alive and well. All in all, I'm still a pretty lucky, privileged person.

    Taking stock of the good things in my life has really helped me when I'm feeling down. It's not a cure all, but it does seem to soothe the pain a bit if I can remember to do it.

    It's interesting to hear about how you compartmentalize your life like that. I've been doing something similar, except instead of just two phases, there are a few. The first, when I lived up north during my infancy and adolescence. The second, when I moved to where I am now, middle school and high school. The third, college and post college years, where I was mostly single and mostly aimless. The fourth, when I met my wife and the life with her, and now the fifth. The fifth act was supposed to be the start of my new family, instead it's something else. Who knows what? It's a little exciting in a way, or at least, I've pushed myself to view it that way. My life was on a pretty certain track beforehand. I thought I knew generally what I'd be doing in 20 years. Now, no clue.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      cfabbro
      Link Parent
      I think you accidentally made a new top level comment instead of replying to @Thales.

      I think you accidentally made a new top level comment instead of replying to @Thales.

      2 votes
      1. papasquat
        Link Parent
        Ah, so I did! Good catch.

        Ah, so I did! Good catch.

        2 votes
    2. Thales
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      That's such a healthy mindset and exactly the type of attitude I've been trying to cultivate over the past couple years. We really never know what life is going to throw at us--but I guess it...

      The fifth act was supposed to be the start of my new family, instead it's something else. Who knows what? It's a little exciting in a way, or at least, I've pushed myself to view it that way. My life was on a pretty certain track beforehand. I thought I knew generally what I'd be doing in 20 years. Now, no clue.

      That's such a healthy mindset and exactly the type of attitude I've been trying to cultivate over the past couple years. We really never know what life is going to throw at us--but I guess it would be pretty boring we did! I try to remind myself that some of the best times in my life were those that were unexpected and unplanned. I also try to remember that it's okay for something to come into your life, stay awhile, and then go--sometimes it has to go to make room for something wonderful and new.


      Thanks for the ping @cfabbro :)

      2 votes
  7. 3_3_2_LA
    Link
    I don't really have anything to add, but just wanted to chime in to say that how you keep going with that positive outlook is inspiring without any doubt. I'm glad you feel more in tune with your...

    I don't really have anything to add, but just wanted to chime in to say that how you keep going with that positive outlook is inspiring without any doubt.
    I'm glad you feel more in tune with your emotional self and firmly believe it's good to perform an 'autopsy' when life throws adversity at us (like what you're doing through this post!)

    4 votes